Coronavirus: Teacher stress levels ‘rocketing'

From maintaining 'bubble groups' to dealing with learning loss, research identifies new sources of stress for teachers

Coronavirus and schools: Teacher stress levels are 'rocketing' in the pandemic, research warns

Teachers have experienced “rocketing stress levels” since schools reopened in September as they have struggled to implement Covid safety measures with "limited resources or support", research shows. 

The number of teachers who described themselves as stressed rose from 62 per cent at the end of July to 84 per cent last month, according to a report by the Education Support charity.

Charity chief executive officer Sinéad McBrearty said: “No one delivers their best work when they are very stressed or emotionally depleted. The compound effect of high levels of stress over a number of years is deeply worrying”.

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Since July, schools have gone from being partially closed to fully open with a long list of new Covid safety guidance to adhere to, including social distancing, mask-wearing and having to remain in "bubble groups".

Coronavirus: Teachers suffering stress in the pandemic

At the same time, many teachers are unable to discuss problems in the staffroom – which was this week described as one of the "hardest parts of teaching in the pandemic".

A third of respondents said they were stressed by organising or maintaining bubbles of pupils, while 30 per cent said a source of stress was the possibility of testing positive for Covid.

Pupil behavioural issues were a source of stress for 29 per cent, while pupils' learning loss was also a source of stress for 29 per cent.

The report also reveals an increase in insomnia and tearfulness among teachers compared with previous years.

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “Teachers are working flat out to maintain a quality education for children and young people despite the immense disruption caused by Covid-19.

“This survey echoes the findings of the NASUWT’s own reports from members in which dedicated and talented teachers are reporting mental health problems and that continuing to work under immense pressure is leaving them stressed, exhausted and worn out.

“The government must listen to teachers’ concerns and take urgent action to address their concerns on workload and health and safety."

The Education Support research was carried out by YouGov, which used a representative sample of education professionals across the UK, including teachers and senior leaders. A total of 3,034 were interviewed in July, while a follow-up survey was carried out in October involving 1,072 teachers and senior leaders.

A charity spokesperson said the research shows that the teaching profession has been “hit by rocketing stress levels since schools reopened in September as staff have struggled to implement Covid-19 measures, with limited resources or support".

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have taken consistent action to address teacher workload and wellbeing and invested millions in mental health charities to support teachers. This includes a new £8 million training programme run by experts to tackle the impact of coronavirus on pupils, parents and staff.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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